14 May 2024

Don't let the signs fool you: Bruce Super Convenience is preparing for national domination

| James Coleman
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shopkeeper Dejan standing next to a sign

Dejan Andrevski took over the local convenience store in 2014, but to many, he is, and always will be, ‘Bruce’. Photo: Bruce Super Convenience.

It’s a good problem to have. Your real name is Dejan Andrevski and you head up a local convenience store in the suburb of Bruce in Belconnen, but so many of your customers aren’t from around there and so get a little muddled and end up calling you ‘Bruce’.

Such is the popularity of Bruce Super Convenience on Thynne Street.

In 2014, Dejan (or is it Bruce?) turned his back on investment banking and tech start-ups to buy a little “rundown” store in Canberra’s north and transform it into a proper destination people the territory over would travel to visit. And it worked.

“It really became a destination store people sought out for more than milk and bread,” he says.

“On a daily basis, we get people coming in from all parts of Canberra. Over the years, we’ve had visitors from Sydney and Melbourne and all the surrounding towns, really.”

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But 10 years on from cracking the secret to success, and with an IGA moving in nearby, it’s time to say goodbye to the physical store. The lease on Bruce Super Convenience is up, and the business will relocate entirely online from Sunday, 19 May.

Once they’ve held a community-wide party to help consume some of the leftover produce, of course.

Bruce Super Convenience began as an idea Dejan “randomly” floated with his wife Hannah, who was then pregnant with their first child.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if I bought this shop?’ and we both laughed, but that night, I got all these spreadsheets out and said to her, ‘I think we can make this work’.”

The store was in bad shape from years of neglect, so the first order of business was restoring its place in the community. But then he had a brainwave inspired by his time studying in the US.

“It started as a bit of a greedy venture – importing items for myself to eat, but then one day, I thought if I put a few of these on the shelf, it would give me a reason to bring in even more.”

montage of Dejan with imported products

Dejan Andrevski reviews many of his products through Instagram videos. Photo: Screenshot, Bruce Super Convenience, Instagram.

Since then, the store has become known for a variety of weird and wonderful confectionary from all over the world, brands like Reeses, Hersheys, Nerds, Galaxy, Walkers, Ghost and more.

It is a tricky process, and there have been altercations with Customs officials over banana-flavoured Nesquik especially, and how Dejan really needs to warn them when he’s expecting a shipment through, but the results have been worth it.

A particular highlight was Lotus’ Biscoff-filled chocolate eggs around Easter time.

“We were the only ones in the country to have them, and we were hounded for them,” Dejan says.

“We got hundreds and hundreds of units, and within minutes of going online, they’d sell out, and we’d have to bring them in again, and the same thing would happen.”

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Not all of them are brilliant, however. Dejan regularly shares video reviews to his Instagram page, some of which show instant regret.

“We started with the social media presence a couple of years ago, where I tasted a lot of the products and gave my unapologetic honest opinion while in my car after picking them up from the port in Sydney. That sometimes leads to me opening the door and spitting the product out.”

Dejan says this community aspect is “what makes things worthwhile”, and he and his wife have strived to be as involved as they can in Bruce. Hannah is also founder of local charity Roundabout Canberra, and was named Canberra Citizen of the Year in March.

“Over the years, we’ve learned it’s about those relationships and looking after customers.”

Turns out everyone loves a Biscoff Easter egg. Photo: Bruce Super Convenience, Facebook.

Since putting up the closure signs on the store windows and announcing the news online, Dejan has been inundated with customers coming into the store “in tears”. To that end, he plans to hold “a bit of a party” onsite this weekend.

“We keep getting asked the question, ‘What’s going to happen to this stock once you leave?’ And I refuse to sell it all, so I keep saying, ‘I think we’ll just have to eat and drink it before we leave’. And I’ve found there are limitations to my eating and drinking abilities.”

After Sunday, the remaining stock will be moved to a small warehouse, and Dejan will turn his attention to the online store.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide an even better service to everybody looking for those snacks, both locally and nationally.”

However, as an ode to its roots, the name Bruce Super Convenience will remain, which also means people will be accidentally calling Dejan ‘Bruce’ for some time yet.

Follow Bruce Super Convenience on Facebook or Instagram for updates.

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